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Is Casey's General Stores, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:CASY) High P/E Ratio A Problem For Investors?

Simply Wall St

This article is for investors who would like to improve their understanding of price to earnings ratios (P/E ratios). We'll apply a basic P/E ratio analysis to Casey's General Stores, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:CASY), to help you decide if the stock is worth further research. Based on the last twelve months, Casey's General Stores's P/E ratio is 24.67. That is equivalent to an earnings yield of about 4.1%.

View our latest analysis for Casey's General Stores

How Do I Calculate A Price To Earnings Ratio?

The formula for price to earnings is:

Price to Earnings Ratio = Share Price ÷ Earnings per Share (EPS)

Or for Casey's General Stores:

P/E of 24.67 = $157.38 ÷ $6.38 (Based on the year to October 2019.)

Is A High Price-to-Earnings Ratio Good?

The higher the P/E ratio, the higher the price tag of a business, relative to its trailing earnings. That isn't necessarily good or bad, but a high P/E implies relatively high expectations of what a company can achieve in the future.

Does Casey's General Stores Have A Relatively High Or Low P/E For Its Industry?

We can get an indication of market expectations by looking at the P/E ratio. The image below shows that Casey's General Stores has a P/E ratio that is roughly in line with the consumer retailing industry average (23.5).

NasdaqGS:CASY Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 30th 2019
NasdaqGS:CASY Price Estimation Relative to Market, December 30th 2019

Its P/E ratio suggests that Casey's General Stores shareholders think that in the future it will perform about the same as other companies in its industry classification. So if Casey's General Stores actually outperforms its peers going forward, that should be a positive for the share price. Further research into factors such as insider buying and selling, could help you form your own view on whether that is likely.

How Growth Rates Impact P/E Ratios

Generally speaking the rate of earnings growth has a profound impact on a company's P/E multiple. If earnings are growing quickly, then the 'E' in the equation will increase faster than it would otherwise. And in that case, the P/E ratio itself will drop rather quickly. So while a stock may look expensive based on past earnings, it could be cheap based on future earnings.

Casey's General Stores's earnings per share fell by 32% in the last twelve months. But over the longer term (5 years) earnings per share have increased by 13%.

Don't Forget: The P/E Does Not Account For Debt or Bank Deposits

The 'Price' in P/E reflects the market capitalization of the company. That means it doesn't take debt or cash into account. The exact same company would hypothetically deserve a higher P/E ratio if it had a strong balance sheet, than if it had a weak one with lots of debt, because a cashed up company can spend on growth.

Spending on growth might be good or bad a few years later, but the point is that the P/E ratio does not account for the option (or lack thereof).

So What Does Casey's General Stores's Balance Sheet Tell Us?

Net debt totals 22% of Casey's General Stores's market cap. That's enough debt to impact the P/E ratio a little; so keep it in mind if you're comparing it to companies without debt.

The Verdict On Casey's General Stores's P/E Ratio

Casey's General Stores has a P/E of 24.7. That's higher than the average in its market, which is 18.9. With a bit of debt, but a lack of recent growth, it's safe to say the market is expecting improved profit performance from the company, in the next few years.

When the market is wrong about a stock, it gives savvy investors an opportunity. People often underestimate remarkable growth -- so investors can make money when fast growth is not fully appreciated. So this free report on the analyst consensus forecasts could help you make a master move on this stock.

But note: Casey's General Stores may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with strong recent earnings growth (and a P/E ratio below 20).

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Thank you for reading.